Maine Legislative Leaders: Frustrating Session Had Some High Points

Sep 14, 2018

Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeau, a Republican from Winterport, delivered Thursday what he expects to be his last speech to this Senate.

Thibodeau acknowledged it was a difficult, sometimes maddening session. But he said despite that, lawmakers did enact some major legislation.

“We honored the spirit of what the voters passed by referendums during the 2016 election," Thibodeau said. "Yet we worked together to try and manage the sometimes harmful and unintended consequences."

Thibodeau said the brief government shutdown last year was a failure of the Legislature to reach an agreement, when it should have been able to without the drama of a shutdown.

But he said passing a tax bill that partially conforms to federal tax changes is really good news for taxpayers, as is the increase in public school funding.

Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Democrat from Freeport, says the session was oftentimes acrimonious. But she says lawmakers addressed some major problem areas.

Children living in poverty and a workforce lacking needed job skills are two issues that have lingered for years. Gideon told reporters on Thursday that on a bipartisan basis, lawmakers passed bills attempting to address both issues.

“We have a great incidence of childhood poverty in this state. We also have a major workforce problem and we passed legislation to address both of those things, moving people out of poverty,” she said.

Gideon also praised the tax conformity agreement, saying it benefits both businesses and middle-class Mainers with an expanded property tax credit and other changes.

“We came together as Democrats and Republicans and we actually made changes to that package that benefit most of all low-income Mainers as well as all Mainers and Maine businesses. I think those are two shining examples of the great bipartisan work,” she said.